The New Orleans Pelicans do not always play veteran point guard Rajon Rondo in the fourth quarter. They may need to reconsider this soon.
Rondo has averaged 6.8 minutes in the fourth quarters of games so far this season. When he surpasses that average, as noted by Tommy Cooper, the Pelicans have typically won their games.
While correlation here does not equal causation, New Orleans has 16 wins and just two losses.
Rondo has done a fine job taking his game to another level toward the end of the game. He has averaged 9.9 assists per 36 minutes in the fourth quarter so far this season, which leads all players who have appeared in 14 or more games.
He tallied 10 assists in the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets on December 27. The point guard also recently scored 12 points in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 22.
The 32-year-old has appeared in the fourth quarter for 38 of the 58 games he has played so far this season. While he has been publicly respectful of the fact he has not played in some fourth quarters, he has made the most of the opportunities he has been given.
When the Pelicans are playing a game with a five-point lead or five-point deficit with five or fewer minutes remaining, Rondo has done a fantastic job of facilitating the offense without turning the ball over.
His assist-to-turnover ratio in clutch time (5.0) currently trails just five players (including Golden State’s Draymond Green) who have thus far appeared in at least as many games.
New Orleans will likely tighten their rotation in the postseason and it may be wise to consider keeping Rondo on the floor as the final buzzer nears.